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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Uptake Gets Michael Brodkorb on Record Stating Republican Conventions Should Allow Liberal Bloggers to Attend

Check the interview out here.

It’s not often that Michael Brodkorb, author of the “Minnesota Democrats Exposed” blog will offer praise about the DFL (Minnesota’s Democratic Party). But that’s exactly what he did when The UpTake’s Chuck Olsen asked him about blogger access to political conventions. Brodkorb said he has been treated well by the DFL and has been given access to its conventions. He thinks Republicans should follow the DFL’s example. This comes after a series of events that Republicans have asked bloggers to leave or have banned video cameras.

Recently the 6th Congressional District Republicans banned all video and audio recording devices from its endorsing convention — not just for bloggers, but for legacy media including the St. Cloud Times.

The UpTake has been asked to leave from several high profile Republican events including a debate in Jackson at the “Pizza Shack” sponsored by the First Congressional District Republicans, the Republican State meeting in Blaine that was addressed by Governor Tim Pawlenty, and most recently the First Congressional District Republican endorsing convention.

The Uptake was also booted from the 6th District convention. I saw a comment from an Uptake person on a blog that mentioned that.

The UpTake called and emailed the Chair of that district several times weeks in advance asking for media access and did not get a response. Our volunteer correspondent was asked to leave the convention because his “camera was not registered”.

Brodkorb said that the conventions should be open from the "Blogging standpoint." In my opinion, they should also be open to visitors. It goes without saying that visitors, media and bloggers do need to stay off the floor of the convention. That's easily managed by having an audience section of the convention.

Will the 3rd District Republican convention be open if the Uptake tries to get credentials?


Monday, April 14, 2008

Creationists Movie Expelled Released to General Public

The movie Expelled will be released this week. This is the movie that whose producers ejected biologist and blogger PZ Myers from. The Salt Lake Tribune suggests:

Every semi-knowledgeable moviegoer and reader of movie criticism knows what the words "not screened for critics" means: The movie is a dog.
"Not screened for critics" means a movie is so terrible that the studio will take its chances, deprive itself of free publicity, and go without release-date reviews. Considering the garbage the studios will show us critics ahead of time (such as the gruesomely lurid "Street Kings" or the laughably stupid "10,000 B.C."), to keep a movie away from critics is usually a sign that things are really, really bad.

But the 19th movie of 2008 to be released without critical appraisal is doing so under quite different circumstances.
That movie is a documentary, opening nationwide this Friday, with the title "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." It features Ben Stein - comic actor, former game-show host, conservative commentator and former Nixon speechwriter - on "his heroic and, at times, shocking journey confronting the world's top scientists, educators and philosophers, regarding the persecution of the many by an elite few," as the film's Web site describes it.
Who's being persecuted? People who espouse the notion of "intelligent design," a k a creationism. Who's doing the persecuting? Everybody, according to Stein, who narrates and co-wrote the film - academics, the education system, the legal system and (blush) the media.
I contacted the public relations firm handling the movie, and was told there were no screenings for critics for "Expelled." Critics in other cities were told the same thing.
There have been screenings around the country, but not for critics. The film's producers arranged preview screenings for selected "grass-roots" audiences, mainly church groups, to stimulate good word-of-mouth.
In January, the Orlando Sentinel's movie critic Roger Moore was invited to a screening at a Florida megachurch. He was also disinvited, but went anyway. Moore wrote a harsh review of the film, and was excoriated by the film's producers.
Another "grass-roots" screening, this one at the Mall of America in Minnesota, may have created the strangest "disinvitation." In line for the film was PZ Myers, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Minnesota who was interviewed for the film (under false pretenses, Myers says on his blog, Pharyngula). But someone recognized Myers, and a security guard told him he'd have to leave the theater immediately or risk arrest.
Myers left quietly, though his wife and daughter stayed to see the movie. So did Myers' guest: British biologist - and much-quoted atheist - Richard Dawkins (who's also in the movie).
Accounts vary on what happened next. The "Expelled" producers say, on the movie's Web site, that they made Dawkins cower in the post-screening Q-and-A. Dawkins and Myers, in a wry conversation on YouTube, say that no such thing happened.
Now, I have no idea whether "Expelled" is a good movie or a bad one. Like a good critic, I will reserve judgment until I actually see the thing. But I can't help but be struck by the irony of Stein's own words in the movie's introduction (which is also on YouTube):
"In my experience, people who are confident in their ideas are not afraid of criticism. So that tells me the Darwinists are afraid. They're hiding something."
What, pray tell, are Stein and the "Expelled" producers hiding? And what are they afraid of?

You can check out the NCSE website for more on the movie Expelled.

Michele Bachmann on Jason Lewis's Show Before the Tax Cut Rally

by the Dump Bachmann Transcription Service

MB on KTLK 4-10-8 with Jason Lewis

JL: And we are back on the 2008 Tax Cut Rally Preview Show. I am Jason Lewis, America’s Mr. Right, along with America’s Mrs. Right, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann joins us. Congresswoman, are you gettin’ ready for Saturday’s big tax cut rally?

MB: I am ready, I’ve got my gloves on, I’m duked up, I’m pumped up. I’m gonna be there because for lovers of liberty and prosperity this annual tax rally, Jason, is a must-do event of the year.

JL: And you are a veteran, I mean you’ve been here from the beginning, as a member of the state Senate, as a member of Congress, and, and last year we had such a wonderful turnout, got national attention. Given what’s happened in Minnesota, amongst your former colleagues in St. Paul, and what’s going to happen if the Democrats, uh, gain in majority status in the House of Representatives, in the U.S. Senate as well as the White House, this is going to be the greatest assault on the taxpayer in my adult life.

MB: It is the greatest assault. Not only did the Democrats in Minnesota raise taxes on the Minnesota taxpayers, over 7 billion dollars and counting, here in Washington D.C., uh, we just took a vote on the Democrat budget bill and they are going to increase taxes nationally 683 billion dollars. That’s jaw-dropping, as well as an additional 70 billion dollars for alternative minimum tax.

JL: It really is quite jaw-dropping when you consider this because our Tax Cut Rally this Saturday, high noon in St. Paul, capitol steps as always, is not just about Minnesota state taxes, it’s about the assault from the federal level as well. And you consider just letting the Bush tax cuts expire, you will, you know, double the capital gains tax, you may end up tripling the dividends tax, and now Charlie Rangel wants to add a surcharge on top of that. Barack Obama is running to increase the, uh, taxes on social security wages. I mean, not only is it of course morally objectionable, you want to talk about something that’s going to kill the economy overnight, this is it.

MB: Well and it’s like they’re playing poker with each other, saying, I’ll see your tax increase and raise it another. Because not only all of the expired tax cuts which would increase dramatically the tax burden on the average Minnesotan, just this new budget bill alone from the Democrats would come out to over three thousand dollars for the average Minnesotan additional.

JL: That’s an amazing figure. I mean that is just absolutely astounding because I’ve, I’ve heard of the Bush tax cuts being expired, or their expiration causing a tax increase of upwards of a thousand dollars per family, you throw on the Democrat increases being contemplated, you know, to fund their budget, and this thing’s totally out of control. You know what’s fascinating about this, Congresswoman Bachmann, is here we are in this housing crunch because of the government-engineered housing boom, bubble if you will, and now we need an economic growth model to get us out from under this recession, yet the fed inflating the economy – this is stagflation all over again. If you have these massive tax increases, massive budgets, as well as the federal reserve in my opinion whose monetary policiy’s too easy, trying to bail out Wall Street, it’s Jimmy Carter redux.

MB: We, we couldn’t come up with a worse formula right now, Jason, especially when you look at the increasing crisis on energy and on groceries. Americans and especially Minnesotans are feeling it from every corner. This is very solvable, but it’s – the way you do that is you cut spending and you cut taxes. And that, that’s why I’m so happy you’re doing the rally on Saturday. I can’t wait to be there. I’ll be there with boots on and bells on because we’re going to have the biggest rally ever because Minnesotans are saying, we are not putting up with this scam anymore. We’re the ones in charge, and we’re gonna go forward and take charge and we’re not gonna stand for these tax increases.

JL: Of course the Democrats here in St. Paul as well as in Washington D.C. where you do your work, and very good work, I might add, uh, they say, we’re just gonna raise taxes on the well-to-do. You know, the Charlie Rangel surcharge, it’s just gonna be the well-to-do. The social security increase, just the well-to-do. The Amy Klobuchar says, just the one percent.

MB: (laughs) Well, the top one percent is paying about 24 percent of all taxes. So I think they’re, they’re, more than paying their fair share, they’re being raked over the coals. But what they mean by well-to-do now is a cop married to a nurse. Because –

JL: -right

MB: -they have to go everywhere in order to increase their base. They have to broaden their base to bring in more money, because they, they basically are obese right now, with tax, ah, increases and they’re looking for more.

JL: When you look at that Democrat budget you just described, raising taxes just on the top one percent doesn’t come anywhere close to meeting the revenue targets, so obviously when they say the top one percent, they mean the top five, the top ten percent, now you’re right, you’re a middle class family both makin’ 50 thousand dollars a year, all of a sudden you are the ├╝ber-rich. And I don’t know what-when these people are gonna learn. I don’t know how many capital gains tax cuts that have to elicit more revenue, I don’t know how many cuts in the top marginal rate that have to elicit more revenue, before these liberal Democrats, get, get the uh, the uh, you know, axiom here, that if you cut taxes on the highest income earners, government gets more money.

MB: Well you know and your listeners know that if you increase taxes on people, people will change their behavior. Democrats don’t like to believe that, they believe that people’s behavior is static, but when they increase people in a punitive fashion, people make changes, and we’ll see reduced revenues into the treasury, and there’s recent studies to verify that, that if Democrats go forward and increase taxes, we will in fact reduce revenue.

JL: In fact Sen. Charles Grassley, your colleague over in the Senate, wrote a letter to the CBO not long ago saying, what, what’s the response or what’s been the dynamic behavior coming out of the capital gains tax cut, 28 to 20 percent, of which they now want to at least double in the Democrat propo- oh, the CBO of all people said, yah, you’ve got more revenue than you did at the higher rate.

MB: (laughs) The, the thing is, there are tax cuts that generate revenue. Clearly the tax cuts on capital gains and dividends are revenue raisers.

JL: And those are all good reasons in a macroeconomics sense, Congresswoman Bachmann, but in the final analysis, whether the government’s budget goes up or down really isn’t the primary concern--

MB: That’s right, that’s right.

JL: We don’t cut taxes to grow the government, we cut taxes because it’s the taxpayers’ money.

MB: That’s exactly right, and that’s why I’m so grateful for this tax rally, because the whole focus of the Minnesota tax rally is to pursue liberty and to pursue prosperity for the individual. That’s why, I know Jason, we’re gonna be busting at the seams on Saturday because in force, all across the Sixth Congressional District as well as the other eight districts I know are gonna want to have a point of focus where they can register their displeasure with out of control government spending.

JL: Thanks again Congresswoman Bachmann, we’ll see you Saturday. It’ll be a big day Saturday, high noon on the capitol steps, that’s this Saturday. When we come back, Phil Krinkie will join us. Jeff Davis of the Minnesota Majority and some other local groups on what they’re planning for this year’s 2008 tax cut rally on the capitol steps. Our preview continues on 100.3 K-talk.


The Taxpayer's League encouraged people to come to the rally to pick up these signs:


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Expelled Exposed

NCSE put up a website to counter the lies in Expelled.

St Cloud Times Editorial Comes Down Hard on 6th District Republican Party Audio/Video Ban

St Cloud Times:

Ask the editor: Audio, video ban is troubling
Published: April 13. 2008 12:30AM

Good morning, St. Cloud area.

An early morning call to the executive editor on April 5 prompts this column.

The call was from Times reporter Lawrence Schumacher, who was covering the 6th Congressional District GOP nominating convention at the Schwan Center at the National Sports Center in Blaine.

Schumacher had been told by 6th Congressional District Republican Party Chairman Mark Swanson that no video cameras or audio recording devices were allowed in the hall. All those entering the meeting area, including journalists, were barred from shooting video or recording audio of the convention speeches.

The order came from the Minnesota 6th District Republicans executive board.

This was a strange situation but another and growing example of what journalists have to battle in our effort to cover news.

In today's media world, reporters can do their work using more than a notebook and pen. Our staffers can cover a news story with words, still photos, audio and video. These restrictions on what equipment reporters can use is an abridgment of the journalist's effort to cover the news.

The reasons for the audio/video ban are baffling.

It appears that Rep. Michele Bachmann, the Republican incumbent, has shown up in several videos in less than flattering ways because people altered the video. To avoid giving people more fodder to make fun of the first-term House member, the district's executive committee decided to block any audio or video from the convention sessions.

The committee also decided to bar video and audio because more than 90 people were scheduled to go to the microphones and speak during the endorsement sessions, Swanson said. Some of those people may have been nervous and said things they later regretted, Swanson said.

He compared it to a family picnic. And you don't want news cameras showing up at a family picnic, he said.

So Schumacher covered the event with a live blog and wrote a story for print and online ... without video or audio clips of the speeches. He did do a video in the hallways, which was allowed by Swanson. To his credit, Swanson appeared in the video and explained his decision. That was a good thing.

The state's Open Meeting laws don't apply to private party endorsement conventions. And again, we were allowed to cover the event, just not with video or audio.

Also, it is important to note that neither Bachmann nor her staff were consulted on the decision about barring video and audio from the sessions. Swanson and Bachman's press secretary, Stephen Miller, both told me that Bachmann wasn't involved in the decision.

My question to Miller: Did the congresswoman support the decision to bar video and audio? Unfortunately, I was unable to get in contact with Bachmann for this column. The next time we have a chance to chat I plan to ask her.

I hope Michele Bachmann does get this question asked directly, and there is a follow up column that gives her answer.

Again, I share this story with readers because there is an alarming increase in people trying to control what devices will be allowed into news events and how often online news stories or blogs can be updated.

It's all about control. These moves also raise red flags for journalists because we wonder what people want to hide or block access to. Since when are district nominating conventions to pick a candidate to run for the U.S. House not a news event the public needs to know about in an unfettered and unrestricted manner?

That's what I've always thought, and is part of the reason I've gone and covered various district conventions.

Most of the time candidates and political parties want all the coverage they can get.

A final note: After the story was reported, 6th District DFL Party Chairwoman Nancy Schumacher contacted our reporter Lawrence Schumacher (no relation) this week and invited him to cover their convention April 26 in Andover and to bring his video equipment and talk to whomever he wanted.

Kudos to Nancy Schumacher.

From the story chat:

My thinking is you can't "look foolish" if you don't say something foolish, even though some of the context may get lost in the editing process.
Media report excerpts from speeches all the time. If you don't want to look like a fool, don't talk like one. As Mr. Bodette suggests, it does seem troubling to put these kinds of restrictions on the media.

But what I also find troubling is why no Republican opposed Mrs. Bachmann for the nomination? Clearly, the party leaders are aware that Mrs. Bachmann is a loose cannon who says stupid things (hence the ban on video at the nominating convention), yet she was endorsed unanimously.
In my opinion, that reflects negatively on the party. Hopefully, it's not too late to do something about it.

Lifelong St. Cloudite from St. Cloud
Comment Posted: 4/13/2008 6:04:15 AM

Maybe "Deep Throat" should think about her behavior and the impact it has on potential videos rather than not allowing video coverage. Even though the executive committee is taking the fall for this decision, they usually do what the candidate wants them to do.

Earth Angel
Comment Posted: 4/13/2008 7:15:46 AM

We can thank people like Avidor from Minneapolis (not the 6th district), for he made a "cottage industry" out of grotesquely skewering videos and posting them on UTube and on chat sites around the nation.

Karl from Stillwater, MN
Comment Posted: 4/13/2008 8:49:48 AM

Four points:

  1. Some of you need to get a clue as to what political satire is about. What Avidor and others do with images and video is no different than what a good editorial cartoonist does with caricatures. What's next--a ban on sketch pads in conventions because someone might draw an unflattering cartoon of her highness?

  2. The reason behind all this is a fear of Michele Bachmann looking foolish on camera. Yet we're supposed to believe that neither Bachmann nor anyone associated with her had anything to do with this decision? Right.

  3. What is Bachmann going to do--and more importantly, what is the media going to do--once the campaign is underway and debates are held in public venues? Will Bachmann try to impose a ban on video cameras at all parades this summer?

  4. When the editor asks Bachmann about this, he might also ask her why she has not held one single public forum for constituents since her election. What is she hiding from?

It's worth noting the 3rd District DFL convention allowed media and blogs to video tape, and Michael Brodkorb was blogging from Minnesota Democrats Exposed, and Mark Drake Spokesman for the Republican Party of Minnesota was there. Brodkorb explained why Drake went to the convention:

Drake attended the convention so he could provide comment to the media immediately after the DFL endorsed a candidate. This is great bracketing by Drake and the MN GOP.